121 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Michael,

    I couldn’t find your contact on this site, so I’m leaving a comment here. I wanted you to know that your article about the 3 ladder class system has turned me, my entire nuclear family, and a few of my friends into regular readers of yours. Your ideas are well fleshed out and extremely compelling. I wish I could learn to think on your level.


  2. Your post on common misperceptions of start ups is one of the best blog posts I’ve read. Thank you for saying what is so obviously true that so few people have the courage to say in public. You should feel proud because I bet a lot of people have changed their life decisions based on reading your post.

  3. In response to your HN post: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4830137

    I’m a fan of your work, and your essays have crystallized some of my own ideas about the incentive structures of effective engineering organizations.

    I’m currently pursuing freelance and consulting work and have begun building a network of clients who would likely find you very useful (though I can’t promise that the work would be super engaging.)

    Feel free to drop me a line if you’d like to chat.

  4. Pingback: Building on what you own

  5. Michael…Thank goodness I came across your blog. I was debating whether or not to go out on my own or join a start-up. I have my answer. I always thought the VC’s were a little crooked. I am not a business person just a person with fantastic creations. Best.

  6. hey man, i’m a random artist in nyc and i really want to make a long-form video blog doing a reading of your 3-teir ladder system post, since i think it’s the most important article written in the past 30 years or so. just wanted to run it by you first, e-mail me if you get the chance! (i would love to meet up some time if you’re interested, i am very intent on building a career around social criticism along these lines)

  7. I’ve been following your blog and your comments around the web and you really should be getting more praise than is out there. Your understanding of the company marketplace and organizational environment we’ve created as a society is inspiring. And it seems to be leading to a strategy of organization that would have enough anti-toxins to resist the other well known plagues of group culture. Such seems like so distant of a dream, so to walk through the current construct in such a detailed way, verifiable by my own life-experience alone, makes it seem like there very well could be a way through.

  8. Mike,

    First off, fantastic site. I read this blog all the time and it’s great.

    I currently blog independently for the website “Wall Street Oasis”- I’m sure you’re aware of it, given that you’ve already posted there. I was wondering if you would be interested in articulating your thoughts on the value of coding and programming for a career in finance via an email-interview of sorts. I also wanted to write a separate piece on VC-istan if you had the time. I realize that you’ve already written on this topic, but I had some specific questions, and these guys could really use your advice. I think this could make for a terrific article. You have my email, please write back if this is something you’d be interested in. Cheers,

    By the way, I think we have some mutual friends at Carleton.

  9. Hi Michael
    I’ve seen your post on http://gigaom.com about the Knewton company. You wrote that the company is a joke. Pleas can you explain me your opinion or give me a source. I am very interested in this topic because I am writing a thesis about adaptive learning systems.
    Thank you very much!
    Regards form Switzerland.

  10. Hi Michael. I found your website when I googled “modern society lawful evil”. I was amazed at what you wrote in your analysis of each D&D ethical alignment and how they operate in a modern organisation. It’s like you were writing exactly what I was thinking (spooky!). Great work, very very insightful articles.

    Check out at link on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Littlemore . It’s about a lawyer that describes the professional thrill he gets when he manages to get guilty people acquitted because it’s too easy to get an innocent person acquitted… it’s a professional challenge to get a guilty person acquited. And this man is a prominent lawyer, journalist and university professor who utters these words on national TV and no one batted an eyelid.

    Is that not the very definition of Lawful Evil? Our society is so aligned to Lawful Evil (aka selfishness and greed at any cost) that most people cannot see it. If you point it out to people, they think you’re some “crazy conspiracy theorist who wears a tin-hat to stop the brain controlling microwaves from the CIA”.

    I see this as a direct consequence of the dismantling of religion in society. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying “religion = good, secular = bad”. What I am saying is that society used to have a moral compass, it might have been hypocritical at times, but it was there. There was “right” and there was “wrong”. But that moral compass of right and wrong was removed and replaced with economic rationalism which defines “good” solely as meaning “financial success”. Consequently society went from being notionally Lawfully Good (and hypocritical) to being Lawfully Neutral and then evolved into Lawfully Evil when the effects of economic rationalism started to really take root and influence the minds of the next generation to think solely in terms of their own personal financial benefit.

    These days to talk about right and wrong is rather quaint and most people think you are a religious nutcase because people have been conditioned for so long that it is dangerous to have any sort of strong beliefs… because strong beliefs may result in (religious/secular) fanaticism. So the removal of a moral compass has created a void that must be filled and cannot be ignored… and to date, the void has been filled with economic rationalism. But people are noticing with the GFC that economic rationalism does not necessarily deliver rational outcomes or equitable ones… in fact economic rationalism can and has been manipulated by rich powerbrokers to further enrich themselves and then expect the broader society to pick up the tab when things go pear shaped… meanwhile said rich powerbrokers squeal like frightened pigs when anyone mentions a tax increase despite the fact that the average family pays more tax than said rich person and said rich person expects (and gets) society to foot the bill for their mistakes.

    I think this is what is driving a lot of the widespread cynicism and distrust of authority these days. People have had enough of the political spin and can finally see that the game is stacked… despite how the major political and economic players preach to the masses about how “the American dream can be yours if you work hard. Work hard and you’ll get what you deserve”. Ironically very similar to the gates of Auschwitz : “Hard work will set you free”. No it won’t and no it didn’t. It was a lie to get the people to do what their masters wanted, which was play ball.

    I don’t think the Lawfully Evil and the Lawfully Neutral people can be stopped unless society goes back to having a moral compass of right and wrong. The disadvantage there is the risk of hypocrisy or fanacism, however you could argue we have both of those things anyway with the high priests of economic rationalism and the doubletalk of our political leaders and captains of industry. In the very least, however, the reintroduction of a moral compass in society would help connect society with the spirit of the law and the potential for greater good…. rather than a slavish devotion to the letter of the law or applying the law to manipulate others for evil/selfish ends. (Yes I know “greater good” is a slippery concept. I guess if my idea was ever implemented, someone like myself would argue for the reintroduction of Lawful Neutral/Evil. I guess the grass is greener on the other side of the fence…. but I find the sociopathic soullessness of our Lawful Evil society as really something quite disgusting)

  11. Hi Michael,

    I love your site and a lot of your posts have been very insightful. Regrettably I was searching for “performance improvement plan” when I stumbled upon your site but reading your other articles, they are incredible

    Keep up the good work.


    P.s. do you have a mailing list?

    • No mailing list.

      Good luck, man. Sorry to hear that you’re in PIPsville. You’re not going to win that kangaroo court, so the best thing to do is focus on getting the next job.

      Reach me off line (michael.o.church at Google’s email service) if you have any specific questions.

  12. Hi, I just found your blog when I did a Google search for reasons not to work for an internet start-up. I just had a very bad experience interning for one and a lot of what you said resonated with my experience. I am glad that I did that internship so that I can have a better idea of what to look for when I eventually find a real job that isn’t going to be paid in prestige or a fraction of a percent of equity! 🙂
    Keep up the good work!!

  13. Highly entertaining & informative, exceptional writing. While on a bus in Toronto Canada saw a woman advidely reading a printout titled “Don’t sign a PIP”; googled it (yes I read over ppl’s shoulder’s on public transit, it’s a talent) and was rewarded with an introduction to your wisdom… Can wait to read more.

  14. I enjoy reading your blog. It’s different, honest, and you attempt to apply rigorous argumentation to support your ideas. We need more original thought in this world and I am glad I found your posts. If you know of other good posts to read that you may follow please send them to me at (linuxster at Google’s email service)

  15. I really like your concept of “Information Surface Area”. One result of this is that you can clearly see the difference between command-and-control socialism (low information surface area) and something like Basic Income which would improve the information surface area of capitalism by aggregating more information from poor people. I would love to see more writing on this topic.

  16. Hey, just wanted to let you know that I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog since I discovered it a few months ago. You do an excellent job of distilling complicated concepts into their constituent parts and explaining every part thoroughly, a rare trait among the technical class. As someone who came from a C/C++ background and transitioned into functional programming with Lisp, I found your take on both really interesting and informative. Keep up the excellent work!

  17. Your posts should be required reading for anyone considering moving to the bay area; you’re a good reality check to the limitless optimism of Paul Graham.

    I want to link people to an overview of your writing. Something like the sitemap plugin would be ideal, but either such a page doesn’t exist or I can’t find it. Your posts are all already nicely tagged and categorized with good titles, so it wouldn’t take any effort to make a good map of what you have written.

  18. Hi Michael.I would like to know if you can help me to find more information about creating new lottery games. I’ve complete three projects for new lottery games but I can’t find enough information to know if it’s necessary to present more formally.
    do you know how to contact somebody which job it’s creating lottery games?
    Probably it’s a hard question but I hope you or somebody can help me in this question.
    Thanks for your time and congratulations about your work

  19. I actually came across this page on a fluke, I Googled ‘what is a millennial’ after reading another article talking about how millennials are running the U.S.A into the ground. I agree with so much of what you have stated in the couple of articles I’ve read so far. Thanks for putting a voice to a generation with so many voices crying out against it.

  20. I’m amazed at how you dissect lies into tiers and some of your assertions seem impossible to verify, but I must agree that taking sick days out of an employee’s vacation time seems unjust, demoralizing and inefficient and that lack of trust in a work environment generally makes things unpleasant and unproductive.

  21. Have been a loyal reader of your great blog for over a year. The posts on the Gervais principle were especially great, I also distinctly remember a Mad Men metaphor post blowing my mind.

    Would love to read your take on the Quarter-life crisis phenomenon or burnout in general.

  22. This is such an awesome blog! As someone in the product side of things but an engineer I am used to dealing with these business and in-fighting problems you so highlight.

    Some of your frameworks about the types of workers and their in organisational behaviour are excellent. Thank you.

  23. I was searching for performance improvement plan and came across your website.

    I was recently contacted by a recruiter from a large, famous Internet company and it made me remember back to my time, some years ago, working for another famous e-commerce company.

    I was put on a Performance Improvement Plan there. It was really nasty. They fired one guy and handed me a few of his projects. Unfortunately he hadn’t really started any of them and very little was usable. They should have waited until he pushed the projects out before firing him! My manager told me the projects were ready to push out and that another group would QA it and another group would code review it. So what was my part of it? Very soon, I was told I would be fired as well and given a termination date in around 3 weeks. Anyway those 3 weeks got extended to about 3 months.

    In that time, I just did rewrote work from scratch. My work was perfect. Actually some of the work the fired guy had for his projects was just copied-and-pasted from elsewhere in the source code and totally inappropriate and some was written in Perl. The company had a rule at the time, no database writes were to be done in Perl. His Perl work did have bugs and bad design anyway.

    There was a constant stream of bugs on the live website caused by other groups and other people. So I was constantly woken up at midnight and 6am to fix problems caused by other people. A new guy got hired on the say-so of a new director. I was told I had to do his pager duty and, if I did, it would look good for me and I might be able to keep my job.

    I did his pager duty and then was told I had another year at the company.

    In a general meeting, one manager said we were given a quota of fixing 10 bugs a month. My manager doubled it to fixing 20 bugs (caused by other people, not me) a month, otherwise I would get fired.

    Given some Remedy Tickets were mini-projects and not bugs, this was not achievable, given all changes have to reviewed by other people and QA’ed.

    It was a nightmare.

    PIPs are just company sanctioning bullying. If I had more savings I would have left immediately, but to get a few months’ more pay I stuck it out.

    Two days before I got fired, a project manager came to my desk and thanked me for my work and give me a gift. Ironic! At that company, you had a people manager and several different project managers. It was my person manager that fired me.

    At the time over a 6 month period over 50% of our group lost their jobs, some via forced resignations.

    I think policies in which companies fire 10% of the workforce every year, just lead to people in the know hurling abuse and complaints at other people, so they end up the victims.

    I worked hard at this company. It is a pity my last few months were absolute hell.

    I can’t say it enough, that PIPs are company sanctioned bullying.

    • I feel your pain, man. I quit that shithole 6 months ago and never felt happier. If you are good enough to work there, you are good enough to work somewhere else that treats you like a human being.

  24. I didn’t make what I said explicit before. After doing a new guy’s pager duty (even though I had done more than my fair share of pager duty of the whole year in the space of a few months) I was told I had another year in the company. This was by my manager in front of the Human Resources woman. Then a few weeks later I was fired.

    How do these people get away with saying things like this?

  25. Very glad I came across your blog – so engaging, informative, well-organized and funny! As an electrical engineering and computer science student at UC Berkeley, I can wholeheartedly confirm the prevailing belief among my peers that meritocracy rules in SV. Though equipped with extraordinary technical skills, most lack the social awareness, confidence and occasional chicanery required to successfully navigate a highly political organization. They will end up with decent compensation no doubt, but nonetheless be working as a pawn furthering the interest of someone else. Keep up the good work, the world needs more independent thinkers and questioners like you!

  26. I read and enjoyed your article on the low status of software engineers and id like to get your advice.

    I am 37 years old… I have worked at my current job for 10 years.. I am the MVP software guy at my company… A few years ago I got a job at Bloomberg and my current company matched my offer to keep me… Currently I make 150k and I think I am maxed out here… I never want to stop writing code.. At the same time, I want to make more money and have more control over technology company wide… At the same time I have always wanted to own, or own a large piece of the company I work for….

    What do you think I should do? I can probably ask for a title change… But what title?


    • I read and enjoyed your article on the low status of software engineers and id like to get your advice.

      I am 37 years old… I have worked at my current job for 10 years.. A few years ago I got a job at Bloomberg and my current company matched my offer to keep me… Currently I think I am maxed out here… I never want to stop writing code.. At the same time, I want to make more money and have more control over technology company wide… At the same time I have always wanted to own, or own a large piece of the company I work for….

      What do you think I should do? I can probably ask for a title change… But what title?


  27. I was reading your blog and found it to be thoughtful and interesting. I also have a math background and have done some machine learning. I recently was solicited by apple for a postion on their camera engineering team and was wondering what you thought of them. Do they stack rank?

  28. I run a small business (that used to pretend to be a startup). I’m an engineer who figured out the game a little early and struck out on my own so I could as least have a contract between me and the people I do work for.

    It has been a hard road but all the problems have been from my choices on business people.

    Frigging awesome site.

  29. The article has very strong co-relation what I went through as a media strategy guy who loves data to decision. The apes in higher ups have screwed up the industry where faking it is the norm. You are bang on. May be might is right is still a norm.

  30. I discovered your blog a few weeks ago from a link on another Web site. Over the last few weeks I have been reading your entries and I am impressed and surprised at your insights. The blogs you have on psychopaths in upper management are especially interesting to me, as I have spent over 30 years in software development. I have worked in a number of roles and met quite a few of these folks.

    Interestingly (to me anyway), here in the Chicago area I have run into the same group of psychopathic individuals over and over again. They are able to use their skills to raise capital repeatedly despite having a very questionable business and criminal complaint record.
    Be that as it may, I was wondering if you have ever looked at Jon Ronson’s book, “The Psychopath Test”? If not it’s definitely worth your time.

    I also just happened to have seen a great film that sort of deals with some of these issues in a different way. It’s called “The Long Hot Summer” and revolves around an older “virile” businessman who takes in a younger version of himself. This is all adapted from a couple of William Faulkner stories, but very well adapted. It’s worth viewing by anyone interested in why sociopathic people advance. Despite the Hollywood ending, it provides a different kind of insight from a very different time.

    Keep up the great writing. Whoever gave you a clinical diagnosis of writing too much is truly clueless. How do they think professional writers hone their skills? I wonder if this person also thinks musicians play too much and artists paint too much!

    • 1999 wasn’t a bubble in software salaries. The bubble was in the unreasonable valuation of technology stocks (by everyone). If I included equity at-then-valuation, then I’d have a bubble number.

  31. Hi Michael.

    Your writing is a beacon for me. I know am not alone in my feelings about the software industry, and you articulate the feelings I have had deep in me for the last 8 years or so – i.e. after the honeymoon (maybe clueless phase?) when I thought “wow I am actually getting paid to code, how lucky am I!!”. You have helped me find some clarity in my mind about things, although I have no solutions yet.

    You talk a bit about depression and I find this interesting because I wonder sometimes if the corporate culture pushes people in this direction without those people knowing, and if I suffer from it too and what I can do about it. I feel like there is a huge disconnect between the love of programming I experienced as a child with my first computer, and what it like programming in a job. I have had 4 jobs and it isn’t an employer-specific thing just a general pattern.

    On the positive side… how many people do the work they decided they wanted to do when they were 9 years old 🙂 So I am lucky.

    I definitely don’t agree with everything you write – occasionally there is a bit of hyperbole, and sometimes no clear mental path to the conclusions that you draw. This is what I like though – to read something that makes me think ‘hold on do I agree with him?’… and I really get thinking. Nothing I have read in the faddy business books or popular tech blogs comes close to hitting reality like this.

    So thanks!


  32. I don’t know what I was searching for that lead me to your blog but I absolutely love what you’ve written. I agree with a lot of what you say and where I disagree I find it thought-inspiring. Thanks for being here!

  33. Michael ,

    Jason from the Clojure group gave me your name . He said you would be interested in a Full time position i have in Baltimore.

    Can we chat?

  34. Your revolution will fail, Michael. The age of the brogrammer has only just begun. Us frat boys are grokking CS much better than your caricature of us would have others believe. Don’t let the overzealous idiots in our ranks fool you; they are merely the first wave. Soon we will rise in engineering as we have in business.

    We can work together, but you are wasting your energy by wishing us away. Alienating yourselves will only further your nightmare.

    Picture it: Both cofounders from the same charismatic tribe. You will cower in our wake as our children’s children our guaranteed the same fortune, mates, and privilege that have been bestowed upon us by the Great Plan.

    Yet, you will continue to call us sociopaths and other names in order to shield yourself from your overt fear that what you deny before bed each night is, in fact, true: we are superior. Just remember, where you excel, we are good enough; where you feel lost, we feel right at home.

    You underestimate us, Michael. You are not prepared.

  35. You write “about” yourself: “I live in Baltimore and my interests include machine learning, game design, computer programming, and startups.” Is this to be interpreted as, “I am a student, under 25 years old?”

  36. Hi Michael,

    I just came across your ‘Six languages to master’, ‘Object Disoriented Programming’ and ‘The next secret weapon in programming’ and I found them incredibly insightful. I agree that large ‘enterprise’ languages like Java usually lead to bad results, more expressive dynamic languages like Python are an improvement and statically-typed functional languages such as ML are even better. There is one relatively new language though that I find hard to place and I was hoping for your opinion on: Go.

    On the one hand Go is a language that seems to embrace the Unix philosophy of composition from small, simple focused pieces. It has some basic functional features such as higher order functions and closures. On the other hand it has no support for immutability, few advanced functional features and seems to many reactionary towards modern language design. I am very curious to hear your thoughts.

    • Go, I think, was designed to be a Google Language. In that context, it makes sense. And there are things about it that I like. I like that importing a library and not using it is an error; it prevents spurious dependencies.

      Am I a fan of the language in general? No. Programming languages aren’t in Google’s DNA, and Go is better than its other house languages. I still find it rather uninspiring. These days, I’d much rather use Haskell. Rust and Julia look pretty interesting, too.

  37. The post you have been editing a lot recently – all of the drafts that were published came through via WordPress email notification. Just so you know.

  38. Hey, Michael. Have you heard of Toptal? Their billboards have gone up on 101 here in the Bay Area recently, and I’ve found them, and the company, rather appalling. I’d be interested in your reaction.


    • The language is certainly disgusting. Even if they are providing a useful service (this is the first time I’ve heard of them) they sound like a bunch of little Eichmanns.

      I’m all for finding a way for truly elite engineers to prove their worth but McKinsey assholes out to enable the worst traits of businessmen don’t fucking get to define talent.

      Rather than selling up what great engineers can do, these rancid fishcunts are selling fear and lowering our status. They must be brought low for this.

  39. your post on Hacker News brought me here. You’re an excellent writer. You should really think about doing some sort of book length work. Maybe something to inspire all the good people feeling left out by startup culture.

    Bill Pollock
    No Starch Press

  40. I am not in tech, but I live in the bay area where there is a lot of tension about inequities of the tech world versus the people left behind. I really liked your article on https://michaelochurch.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/can-tech-fix-its-broken-culture/
    It showed me why tech can’t keep women programmers and people of color because the culture has a lot of problems, and possibly takes advantage of young people too (making them feel like rockstars, while treating them like crap). I have more sympathy for programmers now. I used to think they were all just imported here to take away housing and they act like they don’t care. Now I see the other side. Maybe they are being duped too. I wonder how many of them leave here in debt. The media tends to focus on the billionaire-over-night people, which makes the people losing housing feel screwed. Perhaps you are right that the problem is at the top.

    • Some background info: Dan Price, the CEO of a Seattle company who implemented a minimum salary policy for all employees, while lowering his own paychecks, received mixed response. The worst being his own brother is suing him.

  41. I found this page after reading about you on Quora where a bunch of people called you a crazy ranter who gets banned all the time. They quoted a few things that sent up red flags to me about what they were saying. For example, sock puppeting bans being used as a proxy. I could really relate to the things you were saying even when it was someone criticizing you choosing the selections. I am always arguing with sites about ban or editing policies. Proxy ban = using authority on someone who challenges your authority. Wikipedia suffers from the “paraphrasing” issue I have been arguing with teachers since middle school, where what constitutes a logical extension of referenced material depends on your intelligence and reasoning ability. I also believe that pointed disagreement is necessary to keep a discussion on track – and that ambiguous “civility” rules are usually just interpreted to protect current power users who can make sarcastic barbs all they want which are then arbitrarily categorized differently than responses in kind. Persistent disagreement itself is uncivil, since you are implying the person was too stupid to get your argument the first time.

    Anyways when I found this blog I was pretty impressed with your well reasoned thoughts and writing style. I think you are very intelligent and should put your mind to something productive – I suffer from the same issue of getting sidetracked with stuff like this all the time.

  42. Pingback: Five Blogs – 7 December 2015 | 5blogs

  43. Michael I just want to thank you for writing such an honest, intelligent article, you really articulate perfectly the real definition of scrum and I appreciate that this is posted for all the world to see. I would have more viciously attacked the GREED behind it but that parts pretty clear and assumed. I just posted my resignation letter here a minute ago from being blindly brought into a scrum job, fuck that shit. Anyway this is good stuff my brother! Many thanks! 🙂

  44. Michael, what happened? I hope you haven’t been forced to delete them for some reason.

    (Unless you’re collecting them for a book, in which case I’m looking forward to it!)

    • >> “We had five individual mission leaders pitch their mission to the larger product team, and individual employees decided which mission they wanted to work on.”

      It seems the company designated certain five people as leaders. This is not full-on open allocation but partial open allocation. In a full-on open allocation shop, people aren’t prohibited from stepping up as (mission) leaders.

      • Certainly, it’s not pure open allocation. Although based on the limited context of the article, it may be that anyone could have participated in the pre-pitch-pitching in order to be nominated for the company wide pitches. Probably, the top level leaders picked the missions and picked the individuals to drive them. Most things involving the human experience aren’t black or white. This seems close enough to me to call it open allocation (at least to see if there’s more places than Valve exploring open allocation principles).

      • In traditional closed allocation companies, the cost of switching to a different leader or a different manager is exorbitant. I call it the switching cost. Compared to that, the limited form of open allocation featured in the article is an improvement since the switching cost is very low.

        But, if I’m only able to choose one of 5 leaders, it wouldn’t provide much competition pressure for my taste. By the time that I find there’s little pressure of free market competition, it hardly looks like open allocation to me.

  45. hey, im sorry to hear about the drama you’re experiencing. I’m wondering if you could send me your piece you wrote on the dimensionality of social dynamics. I read it a while ago, and it had a very profound impact on me. i unfortunately only saved the link and not the text.

  46. Hi Michael,

    I highly recommend you rethink the “featured” section on your home page. Because the featured post is so enormous, your users have to either scroll all the way past it to see the latest post or filter based on month. IMO, that’s effort that the user shouldn’t have to do and is likely alienating or confusing potential readers.

    Perhaps the featured section could be a collapsable/expandable section that is collapsed by default?


  47. Hi Michael

    First of all: No worries. This is not a blogger outreach.

    I am Abtin Rasoulian, co-founder of HackerLife, a project dedicated to software engineers and their workplaces quality. I encourage you to take a look at our blog: https://hackerlife.co

    I checked your blog, and found some of your articles very relevant.

    As part of this project, we are running polls to provide better understanding of overal and detailed issues that software engineers face in their everyday practice, e.g. the workplace diversity, social aspect of the work, or employee’s turnover rates. An example: https://hackerlife.co/campaign/lunch-software

    I am actually reaching out to you to get your suggestions for possible polls. Is there any aspect of the workplace that you think worth digging into and get some data from software engineers?

    I love to have this conversation running. Please write me if you would like to get more in touch.

    Abtin Rasoulian

  48. Are you writing articles and deleting them. I was trying to finish the one about defamation and physical threats. I’m a transplant into the tech world from a very violent sector so this is intriguing. I’d love to go into this more. Seriously.

      • I had no idea. I’ve been in VC funded companies most of my career and nothing like this happens. Other crazy stuff. Like a founder wrestling in the parking lot with a sales manager over a laptop or quick reaction police force and LAPD helicopters.
        Maybe it’s a bay area thing? I’m trying to pause my tech career to write a book and need to add more intrigue in it. This sort of insight is helpful.

  49. Hi,

    Two questions. On the second one I do not want to cause a flame war so please take the following as honest questions with no offense meant.

    1) I am new to Agile (SAFe is the only flavor I have seen). I am not a programmer or in IT but rather on the business side–usually budgeting/funding. When all of you were on Agile teams how were funding and cost overruns discussed and/or experienced? It seems like in Agile when the response is “Whoops! Missed the deadline, but look what we discovered!” then they are supposed to get funded to keep going. That one is hard to swallow since usually missing a deadline is when the uncomfortable conversations start. Any thoughts/links to good article (for or against) would be appreciated.

    2) Is it possible that the industry is going towards a prevalence of 5s while the 8s and up are slowly being pushed out because Business/the client does not need creative solutions, just working ones? Markets pivot fast and sometimes Biz can live with or even wants a mediocre solution just to get them into the right sales or R&D lane. Is it possible that 8s and above belong in the Academic setting where they can be creative and mentor junior programmers without the pressures of Corporate? (Again no offense meant)

    • I’ll give it a small try.

      1) Agile, or any other “methodology”, doesn’t matter. Things work when management is trustworthy (from having the right personality) and competent (from experience and intelligence), and start deteriorating when it’s not. To take your example, your uncomfortable conversation would often be silenced/steered by whomever is truly in charge when they don’t like the conclusion. Relations with management are more important than which rituals you dress around those relations. You can’t sell that as a consultant, of course.

      2) The industry is not going there, it’s already there. With an important exception: technology can be used as a weapon, to make fortunes and break other’s in the process. That’s what Google did. As for Academia it is apparently on the decline, and if you manage to get a place there, pressure seems to be the last thing you’ll be free of. I wish I could spend my life thinking, but given those choices, I’d rather aim for rain maker than academic serf.

  50. Hi Michael,

    I’m loooking for an old post called “What programmers want”. Looks like it was removed, is it possible for you to send me or repost it. It was a really nice article and I intended to use on a motivation techniques discussion at my company.

  51. Hello, I’m looking for your old post “How the Other Half Works: An Adventure in the Low Status of Software Engineers”. My email history says it used to be at this link. I’d really appreciate if you could restore it, as it has very valuable concepts that I want to be able to share with my colleagues.

  52. Hi Michael,

    I don’t think you lost against corporate fascism. Your writings definitely gave it a blow. Most people including me won’t talk about it openly as you do, but there is a lot of truth in what you say. I am myself a software engineer on the other side of the Atlantic, and it is inspiring to see that I am not alone in seeing the corporate world that way.

    Take care!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s